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Hepatitis B vaccine cleared in deaths of nine Chinese children

  |   Jan. 3, 2014 at 1:21 PM
BEIJING, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A hepatitis B vaccine has been ruled out in the deaths of nine children in China, a health official said.

Yu Jingjin, director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission's disease control bureau, said investigators were still working on eight other fatal cases, though preliminary work had found no link to the BioKangtai vaccinations in those instances either, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

All 17 deaths occurred Dec. 13-31, the news agency said.

Li Guoqing of the China Food and Drug Administration said no issues had been uncovered in the production of the vaccine.

However, China's three largest manufacturers of hepatitis B vaccine suspended production after failing to meet an end-of-the-year deadline for new certification standards, the agency announced late Thursday.

BioKangtai, Tiantan Biological Products and Dalian Hissen Bio-Pharm, which account for 80 percent of the country's hepatitis B production, will have to meet the new standards before resuming production, Xinhua said. Two other producers also missed the certification deadline, leaving just two manufacturers in operation.

The administration said vaccines produced before the deadline can still be sold and Li said there is an adequate supply to meet demand.

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